Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spring Hours

Hours for the spring semester are subject to change during remodeling. Check the library website and this blog for up-to-date operating hours.

Expected library hours for the Spring 2014 semester:

Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 11:50 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. - 11:50 p.m.


Sunday, February 2: 1:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Spring Break:
March 8 -9: CLOSED
March 10-14: 8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
March 15-16: CLOSED

Easter Break:
April 17: 8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
April 18-20: CLOSED
April 21: 8:00 a.m. - 5:50 p.m.

May 12-13: 8:00 a.m. - 12:50 a.m.
May 14: 8:00 a.m. - 11:50 p.m.
May 15: 8:00 a.m. - 8:50 p.m.
May 16: 8:00 a.m. - 3:40 p.m.
May 17-18: CLOSED

Friday, January 24, 2014

Watch This: Playtime

A bi-weekly series featuring a recommendation of a movie available in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection

Playtime (1967)
Written and directed by Jacques Tati

Jacques Tati's Playtime is undoubtedly one of cinema's most unique viewing experiences.  It has no central plot, no central character (at least, in the traditional sense), and very little dialogue.  While it can certainly be described as a comedy, the humor comes not from jokes with punchlines, but rather from elaborately choreographed visual gags and the recognition of familiar situations and human behavior.

Tati himself reprises the role of Mr. Hulot, the beloved character he played in the earlier films Mr. Hulot's Holiday (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958), as he navigates his way through the baffling, impersonal landscape of a modern Paris dominated by the sterile architecture of glass-enclosed skyscrapers.  However, Hulot is in the background for much of Playtime, which focuses a good deal of its attention on a group of American tourists.  One hardly even notices Hulot's first appearance in the film's opening airport scene.

From the airport, Hulot visits an office building full of vast, cubicle-filled expanses, and later runs into an old Army buddy, who invites him to his flat.  Hulot's path converges with that of the tourists for the film's lengthy final sequence, in which all manor of chaos takes place at a restaurant on its opening night.  At one point, Hulot's trademark bumbling leads to the accidental shattering of the restaurant's glass front door.  The quick-witted doorman continues to hold the large brass door handle in midair, opening and closing an imaginary door for the restaurant's unsuspecting patrons.

Tati, in this film and the earlier Mr. Hulot films, demonstrates a penchant for visual humor that is unmatched in the post-silent film era, using long shots and filling the screen with activity that does not always immediately call attention to itself, giving the viewer the impression that repeat viewings will reveal a wealth of previously unnoticed details.  It is a film that requires patience from the viewer, something which many modern audiences might find off-putting, but one that rewards those who embrace Tati's playful vision of man's relationship to the modern world.

Playtime is available on both DVD and Blu-ray from the Reeves Memorial Library collection.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Watch This: Fargo

A bi-weekly series featuring a recommendation of a movie available in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection

Fargo (1996)
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

As those of us in colder climes recover from the wind, snow, and frigid sub-zero temperatures that blanketed much of North America earlier this week, it's worth looking back at one of cinema's most memorable depictions of winter bleakness, the Coen brothers' incomparable crime thriller Fargo.

Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), in desperate need of money for a business deal, hires two third-rate criminals to kidnap his wife in exchange for a split of the ransom money, which will be paid by Lundegaard's wealthy father-in-law.  Things go wrong almost from the very start.  The two bumbling criminals, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud (portrayed by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, respectively), struggle to subdue Lundegaard's wife, and their troubles escalate after a few unanticipated murders along a lonely stretch of Minnesota highway.

It is at this point, relatively deep into the film, that we first meet Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning performance).  Marge is awakened early in the morning by a phone call notifying her of the murders, which have taken place in her jurisdiction of Brainerd, Minnesota (home of Paul Bunyan, as we are reminded by the massive statue that looms over the highway at the edge of town).  Although she is quite pregnant, and needs assistance from her husband to give her patrol car a jump start, we learn quickly upon her arrival at the crime scene that she is a gifted investigator.

As clues lead Marge to Minneapolis and Jerry Lundegaard's car dealership, and Lundegaard's own plans continuously unravel, the plot moves expertly from one unexpected twist to another, with often violent results (even many people who have never the seen the film are familiar with the infamous wood chipper scene).

The vast, unceasing whiteness of the snow-covered Midwestern landscape (captured beautifully by cinematographer Roger Deakins) provides a perfect backdrop to the film's depictions of cold-blooded mayhem, and the unending bleakness seems at times to mock the characters in their bumbling criminal endeavors.  In one of Fargo's most memorable scenes, Showalter buries a case full of money in the snow in front of a roadside wire fence, only to discover that the fence stretches on seemingly to infinity in both directions, with no visible landmarks.  He ends up marking the spot with the comically small windshield scraper that he used to dig the hole.

There is much to applaud in Fargo.  The Coens strike the perfect tonal balance between violence and humor, and the character of Marge adds a welcome dose of genuine warmth, especially in her tender scenes with her husband.  The performances are uniformly brilliant, but McDormand and Macy are particular standouts.  McDormand plays Marge with a disarming cheerfulness that masks her shrewd investigative abilities, and Macy makes the hapless, frustrated Jerry into an object of such great sympathy that one almost forgets he is guilty of kidnapping, double fraud, and a number of other deplorable actions.

Fargo marks the Coen brothers' most masterful chronicle of criminal ineptitude and human folly, but they forayed into similar territory in their under-appreciated 2008 film Burn After Reading, which is available on Blu-ray in the Reeves Memorial Library collection.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

J-Term Hours

Library hours, January 2 - January 22

Monday-Thursday       8:00 a.m. - 5:50 p.m.
Friday                          8:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Saturday                      9:00 a.m. - 4:50 p.m.
Sunday                        CLOSED


Monday, January 20:   CLOSED
Thursday, January 23: 8:00 a.m. - 8:50 p.m.